Let the Travel Begin

First up I have an apology to make, particularly to Ben. On the topic of photos, I took three this last week, that’s all…three photos.  On the plus side I was also exceptionally dull so you shouldn’t have too much to read.

Last week was the start of the travel for 2017.  Monday was a day I spent at home working until about noon when I headed to Marks place to pick him up. No wait, the plane got delayed about fifteen minutes before I left so I had an extra hour.  Monday was a super windy day so I guess they struggled with planes in and out or something.  Thankfully the flight wasn’t too bumpy.  So we flew up to Chicago Monday afternoon for meetings Tuesday and Wednesday.

We were booked to stay at the Hard Rock Hotel again, that may have been my doing because I liked that hotel last time.  I had four of the guys to get on the plane, off the plane, through the airport, to the train, then walk to the hotel.  I felt like a mamma goose with her flock following, it was kinda a theme for the few days.  We got to the hotel and my favourite North Dakotan contractors were there and more coming too.  We spent the evening with about 12 of us sitting in the bar watching the college football playoffs.  By which I mean drinking, complaining at the TV, and talking.  More people showed up as the evening progressed. Flights.

Tuesday morning insert about half an hour of organising a decent mob of blokes to get from the hotel to the Walsh office without them individually ordering ubers or taxis.  They got there eventually. 

Tuesday was the big big day, the FMAD kick off meeting.  The event had about 75 people in attendance. I made a boo boo (unintentionally) before the meeting even started.  I had chosen a seat and was chatting with people, Mark came a little later and claimed a seat by me, putting his stuff on the floor.  An older gentleman came by and asked if someone was sitting there, I said yes and he wandered off.  Turns out this bloke was Mr Walsh, one of the two brothers who owns the Walsh group, these two brothers are the ones who decided we’d be in Chicago not Minneapolis for the meeting. This one likes to sit at the back of a room but had to sit near the front.  They own private jets and helicopters and all that malarkey.  Oops.  They tried to get their own back when I did my presentation. Yep, Mark won the arm wrestle (of course) and I had to present the scope. Lucky for me I had delved through everything so thoroughly that I only asked for confirmation of one point from the design manager; I had the pre RFP response but wanted to confirm no changes in the RFP; he didn’t know any better than me. Winning.

This was my amusement over the two days. Look how arty farty I can be when I’m bored out of my mind!

Tuesday evening I was invited to dinner with the big boys.  I guess Dave, our Walsh host, knows that where Mark goes I’m either not far behind or doing the work.  So dinner was a decent steak at a place by the office.  We returned to the hotel and our uber missed a turn so we had about a three minute walk to the hotel.  I was lagging behind (because I waited for the crossing) and passing a steak place when rowdy bunch of blokes burst out of the door at me. Turns out those favourite subs and our estimating team had gone for steak too…they’d had significantly more beer than me and thought it a riot to try and scare me (they didn’t because the door was clear and I could see them early enough. I admit I was surprised that Roger jumped out at me, but more because I don’t expect that of a 50 plus year old bloke).  I had my arm twisted to join them for one drink.  So I did and left them in the hotel bar, which they shut down, then they went to a local pub, and shut that down too. There were some sore heads on Wednesday, thankfully not mine.

Wednesday we had the first task team meeting.  No significant inputs from me but a host of actions, all done. As simehang to break up the monotony of the post, this quote was on the wall of the meeting room.

Make no little plans; they have no magic to stir men’s blood and probably themselves will not be realised. Make big plans; aim high in hope and work, remembering that a noble, logical diagram once recorded will never die, but long after we are gone will be a living thing, asserting itself with ever-growing insistency. – Daniel Burnham, 1907.

Not too bad even if it is from some American.  I’m not sure why but the building we were in was all themed for the Chicago world’s fair, I guess Mr Burnham had something to do with that. Just a little something. *shrug*

Wednesday about 1700 a really quite dense fog started to roll in.  It wasn’t too cold and of course not windy, just pea soup fog. This meant that planes were not landing at Midway airport for a few hours.  It seems that flights could leave but not land, some of the estimators had decided to take an earlier flight so they missed the end of the meeting but also got home at their planned hour.  Mark, Mike, and I on the other hand were responsible meeting attendees and stayed until the end (plus an additional meeting)…so our flight was delayed.  We delayed our trip back to the airport and when we got there we had the unfortunate opportunity to see our plane sitting there all ready to go, with one exception: the flight crew had been routed someplace else because they couldn’t land at Midway.  We sat there for three hours with a plane but no crew.  Mark and I were making all sorts of silly comments about taking the plane, serving ourselves, all falling asleep on each other, etc…it reminded me how well he and I get on when Mike finally piped up and asked how long we’d worked together.  I guess we are quite relaxed with each other. I dropped Mark off at his place at 0050; wonderful times when I had an 0830 meeting to call in to.

Thursday mornings meeting was quite hellish. It was six hours of listening to and trying to absorb legal comments about the RFP. Yay freaking yay.  I’d then organised for one of the risk guys to pop in, he said we both looked a little shell shocked.  I guess we were exhausted.  One final meeting later and I went home at 1530 (early though still a seven hour day).  I had a brief nanna nap then got my butt out of bed and got on the train.  This time the train behaved itself better and Earl and Jaclyn joined me on the train at University to go into the city for hockey.  I have to admit that was a pretty dull game, the Avs were playing quite shit and the Ducks (yes, the Mighty Ducks from the movie though they have changed their logo and jerseys) were on a go slow.  There was only one fight, disappointing.  On the plus side we had amazing tickets through Jaclyn!  Thanks to the nanna nap I didn’t have too much trouble staying awake.

Bring on the hockey! Thankfully not ending the season on such a dull game.

Friday morning was hard work though.  Just everything adding up of course.  It was officially my flex day off but I went into work for about six hours as I had a lot to do after being offline for three days of meetings. I headed home early and Earl and I had a quiet night.  I did cook seafood spaghetti, though with zucchini in lieu of pasta. That was scrummy!  I’ll have to do that again. Highly recommended. 

Saturday we took it relatively easy.  I cooked pancakes and berries for breakfast, not quite as awesome as Ben makes but still yummy.  Then we headed up to Earls to get ready for the fancy whiskey night.  It was a decent night with exceedingly too much alcohol, I may be finding small bruises for days.  With the intake of Saturday night, Sunday was a very quiet one.  Have I told you I’m finally watching Vikings? Well I am and that’s what we did, bacon egg and biscuits (American biscuits are basically savoury scones) for breakfast and a huge dose of Vikings for the day. We did rally some in the evening, Becky had invited Earl and I for dinner with she and Lane, so we headed into town for that.  Becky cooked up amazing braised short ribs with polenta, kale, and mushroom (separated for the one who dislikes mushroom!). That was an amazing meal, super yummy. I should ask for her recipe.

And to finish off the weekend I stayed at Earls because I was much too tired to drive home after that dinner and I get to start the next week of fun!  So this was the first week of the weekly travel regimen, I hope other return flights are less troublesome.  Stay tuned!

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